Most vegetable seasons come and go in the blink of an eye. Tomatoes and corn stick around for just a few precious months in the late summer. Asparagus is even shorter. Ramps? They only ever seem to be available for two trips to the farmers market, three max. But kale will never desert you.
And that’s great news, because this dark green packs major doses of vitamins, iron, calcium, and plenty of fiber. It’s great braised or sautéed, but we particularly love a good kale salad. Raw kale plays really well with all sorts of other produce, so it can transition from season to season with ease. Here, we’ve found some of the best recipes out there spanning from January all the way through December to help you get the most out of your greens.
1. Fruit isn’t exactly abundant during the winter, but don’t forget about persimmons. This roasted persimmon, burrata, and kale salad from MyHabit’s theFIX, created by Spoon Fork Bacon, is a great way to use this forgotten fruit in a hearty salad. Roasting intensifies the persimmon’s sweetness, and creamy burrata on top keeps this from feeling like health food. A sprinkle of toasted almonds on top completes this delicious dish.
2. When winter has you feeling down, this kale citrus salad from The Pioneer Woman is just the thing to brighten the day. Make an easy vinaigrette right in a jar by shaking together some orange juice, olive oil, and a little bit of sour cream. Studded with jalapeños and tangerines, this salad is sweet, spicy, and a little bit tart. For some extra oomph, leave the seeds in the jalapeño.
3. For those who don’t like an overly sweet side dish, Sage Recipes’ raw kale and grapefruit salad makes a perfect addition to a winter meal. With just 6 ingredients, this dish comes together in no time. If you’re new to massaging kale, it’s easier than it sounds. Add oil to the greens and scrunch them with your fingers for a few minutes to help tenderize the leaves. As an added benefit, the olive oil will help moisturize your hands during winter’s harsh weather.
4. Give tired beet starters a makeover with this roasted beet and kale salad with maple candied walnuts from The Endless Meal. Unlike most other greens that seem to sag under the heft of beets, kale stays firm without being tough. With a sprinkle of salty cheese and the crunch of candied nuts, this is about as addictive as salad can get.
5. Strawberries usually partner up with spinach during the spring, but the fruit can end up leaving the greens kind of slimy. Get all the great flavor without the limp texture by tossing up this strawberry spring kale salad from The Lean Clean Eating Machine. This recipe calls for edamame and blueberries to round out the dish, but feel free to swap those for other fruits and veggies, like peas and blackberries.
6. Though they never seem to get as much love as other first-of-the year produce, spring onions are every bit as delicious as fiddlehead ferns or asparagus. Showcase that delicately sweet flavor with this chickpea, spring onion, and kale salad from The First Mess. This dish works just as well for a standalone meal as it does paired alongside some simple chicken or fish. Consider it a spring-ified version of a classic panzanella.
7. When rhubarb starts showing up during spring, most people think dessert like pie or crisps. As wonderful as those goodies are, this kale salad with goat cheese and rhubarb from Foodness Gracious might be even better. Shaved, raw rhubarb gives this salad some pucker power, while a little bit of honey in the dressing and brown sugar on the hazelnuts keeps it from getting too sour. Be sure to get baby kale, which is more tender than the leafy bunches you might be used to.
8. Green garlic is definitely the unsung hero of late-spring produce. It’s got the same garlic flavor you know and love, but it’s milder and a little bit more herbacious, making it perfect to use in more delicate dishes. This kale market salad from 101 Cookbooks whizzes the allium into a creamy dressing with lemon and avocado. Toss it with some kale, carrots, fennel, farro, and avocado for a spectacular lunch.
9. Give hearty greens a decidedly summer look by making A Beautiful Bite’s chopped kale and roasted corn salad with cilantro lime vinaigrette. Filled with sweet kernels, bacon, cheddar, and bell pepper, it’s substantial enough to be dinner without weighing you down during the heat of August. Since the kale is sturdy enough to be dressed in advance, we think it’s the perfect potluck dish.
10. This kale and blueberry salad with a ginger lime vinaigrette from Sweet Peas & Saffron might just be the dish to convert kale salad haters. Sweet blueberries add a burst of freshness, and the zingy ginger dressing packs a serious flavor punch. The kale needs to sit in the dressing for at least a few hours, so this is a great make-ahead option for busy weeknights.
11. It’s often said that even vegetarians love bacon. This heirloom BLT salad from Cookie and Kate is perfect for those who miss the salty pork but prefer to keep things meat-free. The secret is coconut bacon. Douse coconut chips with liquid smoke, maple syrup, and a little bit of soy sauce and bake until they’re dried. It might not taste exactly the same, but it’s darn close.
12. After enjoying the first few peaches of the season right out of hand, it can be a challenge to find other things to make with the juicy stone fruit. This peach and kale salad with miso maple vinaigrette from Rawmazing is the perfect way to use that summer produce without masking the taste. For an extra layer of flavor, try grilling the peaches before adding them to the salad.
13. When breezy autumn days leave you seeking something a little more substantial for lunch, a hearty salad is in order. This lentil and kale salad with caramelized parsnips from A Stack of Dishes, inspired by a recipe from the book River Cottage Veg, offers plenty of fiber and protein to keep you full, and a mix of sweet and savory flavors to keep your stomach smiling. This recipe calls for baby kale, but the mature kind works great after a little bit of a rub down.
14. Apples seem to get most of the attention during fall — maybe it’s the appeal of heading to the orchard — but pears are every bit as delicious. Show off their juicy goodness in this kale salad with pear, toasted almonds, and aged gouda from Marin Mama Cooks. With such a simple method, it’s easy to adapt this recipe to your tastes. Try using hazelnuts and aged cheddar or pistachios and pecorino.
15. Turn hearty greens into a dinner-worthy dish by whipping up this roasted butternut squash, kale, and couscous salad from Life’s Ambrosia. Start by roasting the squash until it gets tender, then cook the Israeli couscous and let it cool. Toss everything with a lemon Parmesan vinaigrette and then dig in. This dish is perfect for vegetarians as is, but a little bit of minced anchovy added to the dressing really takes it over the top.
16. When the roasted squash and parsnips of fall leave you craving something fresh and vibrant, this fuji apple kale salad with maple spiced hazelnuts from Nutrition Stripped will hit the spot. The juicy, sweet apples and crunchy nuts are so great together, this might become your go-to salad. Go ahead and make a double batch of the nuts, because they’re great sprinkled on everything from yogurt to grain bowls.